Up-to-date coverage of the latest events in UK retail.

Whistles to discontinue menswear line

Fashion retailer Whistles has confirmed it will be discontinuing its menswear line, to focus on womenswear.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Whistles said it will “close its menswear line in order to focus fully on continuing the growth of its successful womenswear business. Autumn/Winter 2018 will be the final menswear collection which currently remains available for sale.”

According to its most recent financial results, in the 62 weeks to April 2017 it racked up pre-tax losses of £3.78m, down from £5.8m. Sales were roughly flat at £68.9m.

The upmarket retailer was bought out by South African outfit Foschini Group in March 2016.

John Lewis weekly sales down ‘due to the snow’

John Lewis & Partners has reported that total sales for the last week were down 4.4%, which it blamed on last week’s cold weather.

It said that fashion sales for the week ending February 2, 2018 were down 2.1%, home sales were down 6% and electrical and home technology sales were down 5.1%. However women’s accessories had a strong week, with an 11.1% uptick, and boots sales were up 100%.

Waitrose reported total sales were up 4.1% excluding fuel, with customers buying “roast dinner essentials” and “stocking up on cold weather staples” such as hot drinks and soup.

Carpetright suffers from volatile trading as it hires new CFO

Carpetright’s UK like-for-likes remained negative but were in line with expectations.

Sales suffered week to week against a “backdrop of uncertainty and weak consumer confidence” in the 13 weeks to January 26.

Trading in Europe has remained on track for the same period driven by strong sales in the Netherlands.

The carpet specialist reported that its chief financial officer, Neil Page will be stepping down after more than 10 years in the position. He will hand over the role on February 25 but will continue to work in the business until the end of the financial year on April 30. 

Page is succeeded by Jeremy Simpson, ex-chief financial officer of Suresave Group.

HMV bought out of administration

Music specialist HMV has been acquired out of administration by Canadian music retail entrepreneur Doug Putman, owner of Sunrise Records.

He has taken control of 100 stores, preserving 1,487 jobs.

However 27 branches will be closed with immediate effect, resulting in 455 redundancies.

Investment hits Ocado profits

Online grocer Ocado has reported a fall in full-year profits but said its growth story “is only just beginning”.

The etailer posted a pre-tax loss of £44.4 million.

Profitability was hit by investments costs, share-based senior management incentive charges after the etailer’s share price soared and additional depreciation following the opening of a customer fulfilment centre in Erith, south London.

Retail sales rise in January

Total retail sales rose 2.2% in January, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

The increase was the highest rate of growth for seven months.

On a like-for-like basis, retail sales advanced 1.8% year on year following two months of decline.

Carpetright finance boss to step down

Crpetright chief financial officer Neil Page is to step down after more than 10 years in the role.

He will be succeeded at the end of this month by Jeremy Simpson, former chief financial officer of Sureserve.

Carpetright also reported that overall trading was “in line with expectations”.

Grocery sales rise as Veganuary effect felt

Grocery sales rose 1.7% in the 12 weeks to January 27, the latest Kantar Wordlpanel data showed.

Fresh produce performed well as customers embraced the Veganuary trend.

Tesco delivered the best performance among the big four, recording a sales advance of 1%.

Aldi achieved the highest sales growth in the market, with a 9.1% advance.